IoT Cybersecurity Info Bill Introduced

A bipartisan Hill duo wants consumers to get smart about protecting smart devices.

Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) have introduced the Internet of Things Consumer Tips To Improve Personal Security Act (S.2234), which would require the Federal Trade Commission to develop cybersecurity info for consumers.

The goal is to get consumers to protect their internet-connected devices from cybercriminals. The bill's introduction comes the same week that the Justice Department secured guilty pleas in the case of the cyber attack involving the Mirai distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that blocked access to web sites along the East Coast in October of last year, including Twitter and reddit.

It also comes as holiday shoppers start stocking up on the devices, which include everything from Fitbits to fridges, cars to cameras and as the FTC is preparing to get new authority, or more like reclaimed authority, over 'net regulation now that the FCC has reclassified internet access providers out from under Title II, which returns authority over ISP privacy issues to the FTC.

Related: New Bill Would Create IoT Seal of Approval

[M]any consumers are buying the latest internet-connected devices for their loved ones," said Senator Wicker. "As these devices enter the marketplace, it is important that Americans know how to protect themselves from cybercriminals. If enacted, this legislation would help consumers learn a few simple tricks to help guard against potential cyber intrusions.”

Wicker and Hassan cite studies projecting there will be 8.4 billion connected devices in use by the end of 2017, and over 20 billion in 2020.

Related: Tech Companies Offer National IoT Plan

The FTC for several years has been collecting comment on privacy and security issues around IoT devices, including sponsoring a contest for the most innovative tool to protect consumers from security vulnerabilities in home Internet of Things devices like thermostats.

Those include:

•"Identify the scope of security support from IoT device vendor after purchase;
•"Initiate or set-up an IoT device for use;
•"Update the software of an IoT device during operation or use;
•"Recover or fix compromised IoT devices;
•"Reset, delete, or modify data collected or retained by an IoT device when it is no longer in use; and
•"Access security services, tools or platforms that may help consumers manage connected devices."

Related: FTC Recommends Tweaks to IoT Guidelines

“CTIA applauds Senators Wicker and Hassan for introducing the IOT Consumer TIPS Act recognizing the importance of consumer education and awareness to Internet of Things cybersecurity," said Kelly Cole, SVP for government affairs at CTIA, the wireless association. "IoT will improve our lives and transform entire sectors of the economy by unlocking more innovation and productivity, and this bill will help consumers better protect themselves from emerging cyber threats.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.